Children change everything. Everything changed when I had my first son 2.5 years ago and now everything is finding its "new normal" now that my second boy was born last week. Life as I know it shifted and is still shifting. Some things I expected; others weren't (does it count that I expected parenting to have unexpected challenges?), but these changes happened (at least in my experience).
Parenthood has changed the relationship between my spouse and me.
Being responsible for the life of a small human being changed the dynamics between my spouse and me. It's now different compared to how it was, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Our relationship has grown closer. Sharing the experience of parenthood together is something I've never shared with anyone else. We experience the sleepless nights, tiresome days, and moments of emotional fatigue together. We have been each other's rock to lean on. We've also shared each of our children's milestones and created lots of memories (and our kids haven't even reached kindergarten yet). I can see how the stress of parenthood can drive couples apart. Fortunately for us, we've put a lot of effort into keeping our relationship strong and positive. From all that we've created a special experience that has been a vital part to the foundation of our relationship.
Parenthood has changed my priorities.
Even before my first child was born, what was important to me started to change. I didn't need the fancy brand name "stuff" as much as I wanted them; what I wanted more was to be financially stable enough to support my family. That meant that I became fine with not always buying fancy clothes or going out to restaurants just because I was hungry and didn't feel like cooking. I was totally fine with keeping the clothes I had for a little bit longer and cooking more at home. (I've found that cooking at home is cheaper, healthier, and a better experience for the family.) As much as I want to spend, I want to save more. Having enough is enough for me.
Parenthood has changed how I see myself.
I've always seen myself as an ordinary guy capable of extraordinary things; being a dad has pushed me to be more extraordinary. I don't live for myself anymore; I live for my family, especially my kids. I have to be a role model for how I want them to be. I also have to be how I want them to see me: someone virtuous, brave, and loving. My relationship with their mother will their future relationships with women. For everything that life throws at us, I need to be willing to be flexible. I have to be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong for the tough times that they need me. For them, I push myself to be the best version of myself.